This Place. A short story for Halloween.

The seat was a fallen tree, a once-mighty oak, now moss-covered, and beginning to rot. It had lain at the top of the hill for as long as I can remember.

It was the place where I often sat in solitude, looking out across the valley to the hills, and onwards into the purple haze of beyond.

I am surprised more people do not know of this place, the place I think of as my own. Yet over the years of coming here, I have only seen a few people before today. The occasional dog walker, the tramp who wandered too far from the village, the little girl with the kite, and one or two more. I have never seen any of those people more than once. It seems that visitors to this place are far and few.

Perhaps, the problem is the woodland. To get to this clearing on the hill, one must trek through the densely wooded area, known locally as the Gallows Trees.

There are rumours abound regarding the woodland.

One such tale is the woods are so named because the town’s gallows were built from the old oaks that grow here. Like the one I often sit on. It is said the lost souls of all those hanged now wander aimlessly amongst the trees.

Another story is, years ago, a fellow called Gallow owned these woods, he was a woodsman. One day a cavalry officer rode up to the Gallow’s cottage on his charger, demanding Mr. Gallow’s surrender his daughter, so to become the officer’s wife.

Gallow’s refused, and a fight took place. As Mrs. Gallows tried to separate the fighting men; the officer sliced off her head with a mighty swing of his Sabre. Mr. Gallow retaliated by hefting his axe high into the air before bringing it down with all his might.

At that precise moment, young Annabel Gallow’s ran from the house, coming between the men. The axe cleaved Annabel’s skull in two.

Mr. Gallows was hung in the town square. His body was left dangling for a week, suspended from a frame he himself fashioned from the very oak trees of his own woodland.

Locals delight in telling this tale to outsiders, informing them Mr. Gallows ghost is constantly looking for Annabel within the woodland. On quiet, windless nights, it is said you can hear him calling her name.

“Annabel”, the air whispers, “Annabel, where are you?”

This is the story the locals tell. But others say it is not true.

One time, not so long ago, something unusual happened here.

A group of men came to this place. They carried with them an array of equipment. I heard they were called Ghost hunters, Spectral engineers, or Paranormal researchers. It really depends on who you listen to.

They were a strange lot, wandering about fixing camera points, heat sensors, movement detectors, microphones, and all sorts of gadgets throughout the woods, and around the green where the tree trunk lies.

Five day’s they stayed. Sleeping in a van, and a few oddly assorted tents at the north edge of the woods, next to what once was Black Mill Farm.

Every morning they milled about drinking coffee and checking their machines. They took turns watching the dials and screens they precariously placed on rickety trestle tables in an open-sided tent.

Nothing happened.

Nothing at all.

This is why, I supposed, they seemed somewhat dejected the morning they were leaving.

I thought I would never get another chance to see exactly what they were doing here, so that morning I walked closer, watching as they unplugged their equipment, and began to pack it away.

I was surprised how much care they took in placing their strange machines into those big black padded cases. Two men carrying them, gently lifting them, and sliding them into the van without dropping, banging, or jolting them.

So intent was I watching the men’s activities, I walked very close to their tent, much closer than I intended.

That was when everything in the tent started to buzz and beep. The men jumped, startled expressions appearing on their faces as they rushed about in excitement. I watched as they stared at the lights flickering and buzzing, pointing, and stabbing their fingers at the screens, and dials.

The men were looking up, out of the tent, in the direction I stood. I looked around and about myself, I could see nothing which would cause them so much excitement.

One man called out… ’Who are you?’

I thought he was speaking to me, so I answered him, ‘I am Annabel,’ I said.

I am surprised more people do not know of this place, the place where a once-mighty oak stood, now fallen, moss-covered, and beginning to rot, the place I think as my own.

© Paul White 2014 _ FFCO2104‎2014/U21/808


If you enjoyed reading ‘This Place‘, I am certain you would love to read my psychological suspense story, ‘Three Floors Up‘, published as an eBook/Kindle, and available from Amazon, https://amzn.to/3uZ5W0q and universally via D2D, https://books2read.com/u/mlYqN7

The Killer is Here

Author, Karen J. Mossman has a new release, and a special offer.

A woman is dead, and another is missing. The only person who can save her is Cassie.
With no clues and time running out, her brother, Detective Newbold, desperately needs her help. He is counting on Cassie’s clairvoyant and empathic abilities to locate Chantelle.

When Chantelle’s brother, Pedro, seeks out a psychic for help, he meets and falls for Cassie. Though he wants answers, neither Cassie nor Detective Newbold can give any, which complicates their relationship. To make matters worse, his overbearing mother adds further damage with her meddling.

Meanwhile, the killer has been caught, but he refuses to talk. Now, it’s up to Cassie to read the signs and rescue her lover’s sister.

Will she find the answers in time?


Available as a paperback and on Kindle Unlimited


The Killer on the Heath is the first of a forthcoming trilogy.


Meet Cassie, the main protagonist in a character interview on the blog of J. M. Northup


He could be anywhere, I realised. He might be striding down this very street, seemingly normal. That’s what made him even more dangerous. He could be choosing another victim from the crowd while everyone else just thought him to be a regular guy. They wouldn’t know what he’s done, or the life he’s taken for his own gratification.’

I considered how and why people could be so cruel to each other.  When I’d asked Seb, he’d said, “Not everyone’s wired the same.  Some people think what they’re doing is okay.”“How is that possible?” I’d asked him.

“Take Plinth,” he continued, “being brought up by parents who didn’t give a damn and mistreated him set the stage for the man he’d become. He didn’t have a proper standard to compare to, and the power he enjoyed only reaffirmed his beliefs.”

“You can stop that right now!” A shrill voice crashed into us, throwing us apart guiltily. His mother stood in the doorway, disapproval written all over her face. For a fraction of a second, her eyes lingered on my chest where my nipple stood erect. Once more she had caught me in a compromising position. I felt like a child being found doing something I shouldn’t. What is it with this woman? Couldn’t she have waited until we returned?!


‘The original short story was born in 2018. I liked it, and wrote another and another. I soon had a collection of short stories.’


The Killer on the Heath is published by Norns Triad Publications and was introduced to the world in September.

Watch and listen to the  author read an exciting excerpt from her book.



October 3rd to the 9th in honour of Mystery Week we are offering the book at the knock down price of 99p.



Karen’s Electric Eclectic Books

Toxic

One Christmas

Distant Time

RIP Dave by C A Keith

First attempt at homicide wasn’t so good. Second shoe strike, this fella wasn’t so lucky. I mopped up the remnants and any evidence that would tie me to this deadly crime. Scrubbed my shoes clean, and disposed of the body. I was the only one working that dark late night shift. I dragged the body that I wrapped in an old sheet I had in my trunk.

With a shovel, I worked quickly. Tipped the body in the large hole, poured over some BBQ starter fluid, and stood back. My fingers, shakily struck the match and I tossed it in the dark hole.

Whoof! The body ignited immediately and burnt off safely in the gaping hole in the ground. Smoke plummeted from the hole to the sky like smoke signals.

I kept my eyes to the blackened road for any traffic. After an hour the smoke cleared and I made quick work to refill the hole. I dug up a small bush and placed it in the fresh site and sprinkled dead leaves around. Glad it was fall, lots of brush to cover freshly dug earth.

I locked our work doors. Who would be coming at three am anyways. Turned the sign over to close, to be sure. Ripped off my clothes and slipped them in a plastic bag with my shoes. Stepping into the hot shower, the heat felt good on the back of my neck and back. My back would remind me later with new aches and throbs.

After drying my hair and dressing, slipping back on my shower flip flops, I turned over the sign, ‘Open’.

People were arriving earlier than usual at the gym. I tried to remain calm, three more hours, I reminded myself.

“What’s that on the floor? Over there by the door?”

I quickly turn to look, neck crackling like an old staircase.

A leg! I kicked it back into the storage room it was in between.

“Ah!” I laughed nervously. “It’s just a piece of rope. Must’ve been a piece from the boxes I was unpacking and stocking.”

The gentleman laughed. Sweat beaded from my forehead. I went back and wrapped up the leg with an old towel someone left at the gym and tucked it into my bag. I would throw it in the bin at the back of the gym on the way home. Garbage pick up was in a few hours.

I scrubbed any other remnants and scoured the room for an last remains.

I walked out the door. Hopefully I got away scott free.

You’re dead to me now Dave !!

So dearly beloved.

We mourn the loss of Dave. He was very frightening in his prime. He was known for his tangled sultry webs.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave. When first we practice to deceive.”

He was clever. He lie in wait as he entranced his prey to his web.

No more. Poor Dave.

What if you Planned a Murder?

Introducing Paul White

Website
Goodreads
Amazon


Where did the idea for the story come from?

This book came about from reading far too many crime stories, thrillers, and suspense dramas; or watching them at the cinema, and on late night television.

A New Summer Garden is a compendium of all the great bits of those books, films, and plays which stuck with me.

Give a quote from the books.

I heard footsteps approaching. This was the moment of truth. If Peter was alone, I would kill him. If he had company, I would dispose of them too. Collateral damage would be inevitable. I must leave no witnesses, whatever it took.

I was hyped up, I was ready, ready to commit murder.

Give a short summary of what the book is about.

Intrigue, manipulation, and outright lies abound. No one is quite who they seem. Honesty is an unknown word.

This is the world where Sam finds himself. A world he is determined to survive, if only he can find a way. But time is running out, fast.

What genre is it?

Crime Drama (Contains profanities and some adult scenes)

How many pages is it?

Novella – 93 pages

Why do you think the readers will want to read it?

The story sucks you in from the start… but you are never sure where it’s leading as it’s full of twist and turns.

Lies, guns, thugs, a hunky man, cheating, money, murder, a beautiful girl, revenge, and sex… everything a crime thriller reader loves, all packed into an Electric Eclectic pocketbook. Who would not want to read it?

Where are you located? 

East Yorkshire, UK


Description

  • Crime
  • Thriller
  • Underworld
  • Revenge
  • 18Yrs+

    New Summer Garden tells the story of Sam, who was a down and almost out, with little prospect for the future, when he meets Rachelle, the beautiful wife of the philandering Peter, the kingpin of an international underworld empire.
    When Peter catches Sam ‘in flagrante’ with Rachelle, he ensures Sam’s simple life becomes… ‘complicated’.

    From then Sam’s life takes on a surreal path, where the only plausible outcome is for Sam to end up in prison or dead… most probably both.

Excerpt

It is easy when you have no money, no job, and no reason to get out of bed in a morning, to let yourself go. To become scruffy and smelly. It is not something you do intentionally, it is just a steady decline of self-worth, an unconscious downgrading of your own value. I was as guilty as the next man. I had become unkempt…

…When I returned to the bedroom, a set of new clothes were laid out for me. Once dressed, I looked in the mirror. I looked a million dollars.

This was something I could get used to.

This was far better than existing in a tiny bedsit, a single dark, dank, damp room in a shared house. A room which I was going to be evicted from for not paying the rent. Rent I could no longer afford, rent I did not have.

Rachelle and I sat on the terrace and drank tea like a wealthy couple enjoying the early afternoon sun. It was then I told Rachelle I would do it. I said I would kill Peter to save my own life, and to rid him from her life.

Rachelle kissed me. She said I was doing the right thing.

An Electric Eclectic insight of the Pandemic’s effects on book sales.

Despite shops being closed for much of 2020, figures show Britons bought books in volume – although many authors continued to struggle.

UK

More than 200m print books were sold in the UK last year, the first time since 2012 that number has been exceeded, according to an estimate from official book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan.

Although physical ‘bricks & mortar’ bookshops in England were closed from 23 March until 15 June, and then again from 5 November until 2 December, with differing lockdowns in place around the rest of the UK – Nielsen has estimated that the volume of print books sold grew by 5.2% compared with 2019. This equates to 202m books being sold in the UK last year and was worth £1.76bn, up 5.5% on 2019, said Nielsen.

The Bookseller magazine (https://www.thebookseller.com/news/bookscan-estimates-2020-full-year-print-market-55-value-1234212 ) said the figure represented the biggest volume rise in the books market since 2007 and the highest annual value since 2009.

Waterstones, Kate Skipper called the figures encouraging. “So many people have turned to books for sustenance, information and joy through this difficult year.”

USA

Physical retail and online retail have taken dramatically different paths during the pandemic. Well-established chains like Brooks Brothers, GNC, J. Crew, and Neiman Marcus have all made Chapter 11 filings, while Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Target reported record sales.

While book publishing, generally, has performed strongly thus far during the pandemic, bookstores have not.

Despite much positive news around publisher net sales, the U.S. Census data show that bookstore sales declined 28.8% in October 2020 vs. 2019 and 31% YTD.

Through the summer of 2020, Barnes & Noble, like most independent booksellers, balanced opening restrictions against offering online order pickup and greatly expanded online sales. By late fall, cafe and magazine newsstand sales were still down significantly, but book sales were running ahead of a year ago, aided by a doubling in online sales.

COVID-19′s impact on publishing sales and the supply chain has been less than many feared it would be. Whatever doom and gloom surround the publishing industry during the COVID crisis, sales cannot be singled out for scorn. Trade sales in 2020 were almost uniformly ahead of 2019, and in several categories, unit sales were up over 20% through mid-December.

EBOOKS

The ebook format has been to some extent reborn during the pandemic, recovering from shrinking percentages of overall sales, and publisher disdain for the format.

AUDIOBOOKS

After years of spectacular sales growth, audiobook sales growth slowed significantly in 2019: 16.4% versus 34.7% in 2018, based on data from the Audio Publishers Association (APA). NPD Group reported that unit digital audiobook sales were up 15% through May 2020. The AAP calculated that downloaded audio sales were up 17.3% to the end of October.

In the library market, Overdrive, which had been seeing year-over-year growth in audiobooks, saw depressed audiobook adoption in the pandemic. A possible reason cited by the company: commuters who had been listening to books in the car (or on mass transit) were no longer going into the office.

ELECTRIC ECLECTIC asks…

Overall, the numbers are positive for audio; only the pace of growth is slowing.

Podcast consumption offers an interesting perspective on this data.

Spotify reported in July that in its second-quarter 21% of users were listening to podcasts, up from 19% in Q1. Overall consumption of podcasts more than doubled.

Podtrac recorded 47% download growth for the 52 weeks ending November 01, 2020.

Are these listeners being lured away from audiobooks? Or are podcasts just part of an overall burgeoning audio trend?

PUBLISHING

The pandemic has had an enormous impact on how publishing companies are staffed and how staff execute their work. And, by all accounts, that impact may mark a permanent shift in publishing workflows.

In early August, Penguin Random House confirmed it will not return to its offices “until sometime in 2021… or until it’s safe and it’s practical, whenever that may be.”

Also in August, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch sent out a note that “we will not be requiring anyone whose work can be done remotely to return to any of our offices for the foreseeable future.”

GENERAL

Overall retail sales changed only slightly in 2020, but there were huge swings month-to-month. April sales were down 14.7% from March but were followed by an 18.3% jump in May. November retail sales dropped 1.1% from October but were up 4.1% from November 2019.

Book retail is a set of businesses. First, it’s both physical and digital. More than half of all book retail takes place online (with Amazon accounting for at least half of those sales). Physical retail, on its own, has several components, broadly speaking: chain bookstores, independent bookstores, big-box retailers like Costco, and “newsstands” at drug and grocery stores, airport stores, etc.

Then there is digital, capturing more than 10% of most book publisher sales, and the vast majority of self-publishing sales. Amazon controls at least three-quarters of that market.

TO CONCLUDE

The changes in the retail landscape speak volumes. (Pun intended).

On the one hand, from now on publishers must treat bookselling as online- and digital-first, physical-second, with no further questions asked.

Pre-COVID it was still valid for publishers to ponder “where does Amazon fit within our reseller channel strategy?”

The question henceforth is “how do our reselling channels align with an online-first strategy (particularly for Amazon)?”

And the mouse in the corner might be heard to squeak “and what should we do about the bookstores?”

Although the sudden pandemic-driven shifts may slow or revert toward the mean with the achievement of a “new normal,” we believe that important underlying changes will persist and continue to evolve.

Keep Happy, Paul

National Whiskey Sour Day

Each year on August 25t, people across the United States observe National Whiskey Sour Day.

Traditionally garnished with half an orange and a maraschino cherry, a whiskey sour is a mixed drink containing whiskey (often bourbon), lemon juice and sugar. Whiskey sours are shaken then either served straight or over ice.

An alternative to the traditional whiskey sour is the Boston sour which is made by adding a dash of egg white to the recipe. Another variation is the Ward 8. This beverage has a base of either Bourbon or rye whiskey with both lemon and orange juices and grenadine syrup added for sweetness.

The first mention of a whiskey sour was in an 1870 Wisconsin newspaper.

  • After opening, a bottle of whiskey will remain good for five years.
  • An unopened bottle of whiskey can be kept for over 100 years and will still be fit to drink.
  • Both “Whisky” and “Whiskey” spellings are correct. Whisky is specific to Scotch Whisky, and Whiskey is Irish.
  • Whiskey is the official state beverage of Alabama.
  • Legend has it that Jack Daniels ran away at the age of 6 and learned to make whiskey from a Lutheran minister.

For more information and how to observe the day, click here.

Our author C. A. Keith is a whiskey connoisseur, and one day wrote a short story all about it. This appeared in our anthology. Mayfly. This is free to download from all retailers, except Amazon. Click on the book cover for the link.

Meanwhile, you can read C.A. Keith’s story here.

Palm Lines by Jonathan Koven


Jonathan Koven’s incoming Below Torrential Hill is the second place winner of the 2020 Electric Eclectic Novella Prize, expected this winter as an EE pocketbook.

As we eagerly anticipate its release, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with Koven’s tender and lyrical voice.

His debut, titled Palm Lines, is a spellbinding and intimate collection of poems, now available from Toho Publishing.

Here is a short trailer which was launched prior to release, featuring a snippet of one of its poems:


These heartfelt poems speak to a transformative journey “to rediscover love as both a question and an answer.” Seeking hope, honoring family, finding love, accepting time’s passage, and understanding gratitude are all major themes explored in this dreamlike collection.

“Palm Lines invites one into a sensuous natural world . . . [Koven] is a writer of tremendous skill.”
—Tracey Levine, author of You Are What You Are and Asst. Professor of English at Arcadia University

***

“Its poetry flows masterfully between the delicate balance of nature and humanity.”
—Philip Dykhouse, author of Bury Me Here

***

“These are ecstatic poems which wrestle with surrender. Even as they reach outward, they are reflecting back, mapping the story of our own hands.”
—David Keplinger, author of Another City, winner of 2019 UNT Rilke Prize

***

“Palm Lines is an epic, a journey . . . These poems read like the work of a storyteller, speaking innately human truths over the metaphysical fire.”
—Shannon Frost Greenstein, author of More. and Pray for Us Sinners

***

“In Palm Lines, everything is humongous because of the gravity of the beauty and emotion observed—and language is the catharsis . . . This accessible collection offers the reader an opportunity to take a deep breath and reflect.”
—Sean Lynch, editor of Serotonin

Wedding Bells at Electric Eclectic

We are delighted to announce that our author C A Keith got married on Monday 24th May 2021. The wedding took place in the stunning setting of a Florida Beach.

Unfortunately, some of her family were unable to join them as they live in Canada and they are on full lockdown. However, one son, his wife, and many friends all attended the happy occasion.

Before the ceremony they went to a Puerto Rican restaurant to dine first. They picked a quiet spot on the beach and watched a spectacular almost-full moon rising to one side just as the sun was setting on the other. Her friend read out the vows, and it was just magical, she told us.

Afterwards they all went to the Pizza Parlour she runs with her son for wine and cake. Her son, his wife and a number of friends are all deaf, but that didn’t stop them, and everyone enjoying the dancing afterwards.

‘It was truly a dream come true,’ she finished. And judging by the photographs they would be worthy of any romantic novel.

We are sure you will join us in wishing Charlotte, and her new husband Wally, the very best for their new lives together as a family because she is now a mother of two young son as well.

Meanwhile, you may want to enjoy the stories Charlotte has written for Electric Eclectic books.

The Winners of the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize

We are pleased to announce the winning authors of the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize.

The levels of entries were outstanding. Our judges, who ‘blind-read’ each manuscript had a most difficult task in selecting the winners.

After much lip chewing, hair pulling, and brainstorming we managed to select a shortlist, and then whittle the submissions down to the final three.

They are:

1st Place, Stevie Turner with, ‘Scam!’

Runner-up, Jonathan Koven, with, ‘Below Torrential Hill’

Runner-up, Phillip T Stephens with, ‘Doublemint Gumshoe’

The above stories are now in the process of becoming Electric Eclectic books.

Scam!

Lauren West and Ben Hughes are saving frantically for their forthcoming marriage and mortgage deposit. When Lauren sees an advert online from a firm of brokers extolling the profits to be gained by buying and selling Bitcoins, she is interested enough to pursue it further.

Lauren clicks on the advert. She is soon contacted by Paul Cash, a knowledgeable stockbroker whom Lauren trusts straight away. He is affable, plausible, and seemingly genuinely interested in her welfare. Lauren looks forward to making enough money to be able to surprise Ben and bring the date of their wedding forward and to put a deposit down on their ideal house.

However, things don’t go quite to plan, as Lauren falls victim to a scam and loses £10,000 of their savings. Ben is furious. Paul Cash threatens their safety, and Lauren must try and get her marriage back on an even footing if she wants to win back Ben’s trust.

(To be published by Crimson Cloak Publishing for Electric Eclectic)

Below Torrential Hill

Tristen’s abusive father dies when Tristan is young: a suicide. Tristen’s mother, Lucy, copes with alcohol, occasionally violent. Tristen grows up, ignorant to his father’s abuse, substituting for an ill-equipped mother. Stepfather Lave moves out.

When Tristen is sixteen years old. A comet appears.

Lucy hears voices calling from the sink. Tristen steals his mother’s wine and leaves to a neighbourhood party, blacks-out, and argues with his friend Ava.

He chops a Christmas tree in the woods which his father frequented. After a disastrous visit from his stepfather, an argument ensues, and Tristen is assaulted by his mother.

Tristen gets far too drunk, scaring Ava. She manages to calm his temper and gifts him a marijuana joint.

Lucy discovers Tristen’s theft and reveals to him his father’s abuse, asking him to help her.

But he runs into the woods, falling off a cliff, just as his late father did. Tristen discovers a fallen meteorite. When he touches it, he experiences an epiphany about forgiveness.

Doublemint Gumshoe

Doublemint Gumshoe pits the world’s dimmest detective against its most advanced AI.


When a nano robotics engineer who moonlights as a nude model vanishes from her hotel room leaving nothing but empty gum wrappers, Detective Bob takes the case. But Bob has never closed a case in his long career, and the citizens of San Noema conspire to stop him from solving this one.

Pitted against a dying mob boss, a corporation with wide-reaching tentacles, a ruthless cyber gang, his own family (whose nepotism secured his job), a jealous girlfriend, aliens, competing narrators, and possibly an evil AI from the future, Bob is determined to find the missing girl who has captured his heart, and do it in fewer than 30,000 words.
Gumshoe takes readers on a supercollider ride, sending up Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, conspiracy theories, postmodernism, and even the movie Chinatown.


All of us here, at Electric Eclectic, congratulate the competition winners and eagerly await the publication of their books.

You can find more Electric Eclectic books by simply typing ‘Electric Eclectic Books’ into your Amazon search bar, or by visiting @open24, the amazon store for readers & writers, http://bit.ly/EEbooksonOPEN24

See you there.